NEVER HAD a slight thought about such a big and catastrophic event would ever happen in Manipur. It seemed just like yesterday when I went to college and sat together with my Kuki friends and learned their culture and language. Remembering the past when I went to Churachandpur and boasted in front of my family by saying “Ka lawm e” to the hotel owner and the owner smiled back. (Even though what I said was in Mizo language, the owner understood.) The pride in my heart when I could play the musical instrument Goshem in front of Pu Dongkhojam Lunkim. Reliving these memories will only be possible in my dreams, thoughts, and photos/videos. I may be considered a pessimist for not thinking about a possible reunion or a peaceful solution being brought between we Meitei people and the Kuki Chin people, but I am not able to change my negative beliefs seeing the present scenario where each one of us fights almost every day in social media and hurting each other physically. Will I ever be able to meet my Kuki friends again in this life? Will they ever reply to my Christmas wishes?
Nobody should be wholly proud of their ancestor’s past when it comes to relationships between different communities and even between the same community. The history of the present Manipur is somewhat vague among the youths and the general people at large. It was not always those histories where a king and a queen ruled peacefully, their children married, and they lived happily ever after. We never learned much about Manipur’s history during our school days. Logically speaking without much research, we cannot say that the Meiteis just emerged from the Imphal Valley region when the Gods or Deities just want it to happen. We came from the surrounding hills and in search of fertile lands and rivers, we were simply fortunate enough to find the drying up swampy regions of Imphal. As a part of civilization and human developmental nature, the then valley dwellers of Manipur started the formation of organizational and structural societies by leaving their primitive hunting-gathering stage of life. Eventually, great rulers grouped the several tribes living in the valley and formed a single group of tribes who were called either Cassay, Kathe, Meklee or Meitheis by the then neighbouring lands and outsiders. Some stories and studies suggest the tracing of some specific Meitei’s lineage to Kuki Chin origin. This write-up is not seeking forgiveness or sympathy from no one but is to bring awareness among all of us that Manipur is not just the land of the Meiteis but of all the settlers who have lived here since time immemorial. Please do not take this article as a diplomatic approach or a desperate gesture to gain empathy but rather take it as an indirect offer of conversation to bring a moral understanding.
To live equally peacefully together in a small land is possible, only if each one of us is treated equally. Those who are disadvantaged due to geographical and economicreasons deserve to be given more facilities than those who have easy access to resources and receive more advantages. Living together in a land even though we are separated by social norms and creations such as religion and cultural differences does not mean that we are different species biologically.The animalistic traits in us have seemed to overcome the intellectual and logical traits of being humans and have led us to fight with each other for territories just as wild beastsfight each other to determine dominance and territorial rights. One may say that we need to safeguard our lands for our upcoming future generations, but will our children be proud when they realize that their forefathers gave up their lives for a piece of land which they could not even take with them when they die?
If there is even a God, I pray that he or she brings realization to all of us and cleanses the feeling of hatred among each other. If there is still a sense of humanity and intelligence among all of us, I hope that a peaceful and feasible solution will be initiated very soon. And, if there is still a hope of mending the broken bonds of friendship, I wish that it happens unconditionally with a forgiving open heart and loving embracement.
“When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteousbut terror to evildoers.”
Marjing Mayanglambam, M.A. Student – Ethnomusicology, University of North Texas.